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Allen, Cpl. Fred J.

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Cpl. Fred Joseph Allen
Born: 17 April 1920 – Kentucky
Parents: Lawrence J. Allen Sr. & Sadie Belle Felker-Allen
Siblings: 1 sister, 1 brother, 2 half-sisters
Home: 3505 Greenwood Avenue – Louisville, Kentucky
Education:
– St. Paul High School
– left school
Employment: Civilian Conservation Corps
– worked six months before enlisting
Enlisted:
– 17 June 1940 – Louisville, Kentucky
– U.S. Army
Unit:
– trained alongside 192nd Tank Battalion
– learned to repair the 57 vehicles used by the Army
– August 1941 – took part in maneuvers in Arkansas
– 17th Ordnance Company
– A Company, 19th Ordnance designated 17th Ordnance Company
– received orders to go overseas the same day
Training:
– Ft. Knox, Kentucky
– received orders to go overseas

The decision for this move – which had been made on August 15, 1941 – was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude, noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in the distance. He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of a Japanese occupied island which was hundreds of miles away. The island had a large radio transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.

When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. The next day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat – with a tarp on its deck – which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy was difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.

Overseas Duty:
– 4 September 1941
– the battalion traveled by train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California
– Arrived: 7:30 A.M. – 5 September 1941
– ferried to Ft. McDowell, Angel Island on U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe
– given physicals and inoculations
– men with medical conditions replaced
– Ship: S.S. President Coolidge
– Boarded: Monday – 8 September 1941 – 3:00 P.M.
– Sailed: 9:00 P.M. – the same day
– Arrived: Honolulu, Hawaii – Saturday – 13 September 1941 – 7:00 A.M.
– Sailed: 5:00 P.M. – the same day
– escorted by heavy cruiser – U.S.S. Astoria and an unknown destroyer
– heavy cruiser intercepted several ships after smoke was seen on the horizon
– ships belonged to friendly countries
– Arrived: Manila – Friday – 26 September 1941
– disembarked ship – 3:00 P.M.
– taken by bus to Fort Stotsenburg
Stationed: Ft. Stotsenburg – Philippine Islands
– lived in tents until barracks finished
Engagements:
– Battle of Luzon – 8 December 1941 – 6 January 1942
– converted WWI anti-personnel shells for use by tanks
– set up fuel dumps for tanks as they withdrew toward Bataan
– Battle of Bataan – 7 January 1942 – 9 April 1942
– serviced tanks of the 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions on the front lines under combat conditions
– manufactured and scavenged spare tank parts
– 9 April 1942 – escaped to Corregidor
Prisoner of War:
– 6 May 1941
– not known what unit he was assigned to on the island
POWs Camp:
– Philippine Islands:
– Corregidor
– held on the beach for two weeks
– taken by barge to an area near shore
– jumped into the water and swam to shore
– Cabanatuan
– original name: Camp Panagatan
– Philippine Army Base built for 91st Philippine Army Division
– actually three camps
– Camp 1: POWs from Camp O’Donnell sent there
– Camp 2: four miles away
– all POWs moved from there because of a lack of water
– later used for Naval POWs
– Camp 3: six miles from Camp 2
– POWs from Corregidor and from hospitals sent there
– POWs later moved to Camp 1
– Camp 1:
– work details sent out to cut wood for POW kitchens, plant rice, and farm
– when POWs lined up for roll call, it was a common practice for Japanese guards, after the POWs lined up, to kick the POWs in their shins
  with their hobnailed boots
– they also were frequently hit with a pick handle, for no reason, as they counted off
– POWs on the rice planting detail were punished by having their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on to drive them deeper into the mud
– the POWs had to go into a shed to get the tools, as they came out, they were hit on their heads
– if the guards on the detail decided the POW wasn’t doing what he should be doing, he was beaten
– many POWs on details were able to smuggle in medicine, food, and tobacco into the camp
– to prevent escapes, the POWs set up patrols along the camp’s fence
– men who attempted to escape and caught were executed after being beaten
– the other POWs were forced to watch the beatings
– daily POW meal – 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, sweet potato or corn
– Barracks:
– each barracks built for 50 POWs
– 60 to 120 POWs were held in each one
– POWs slept on bamboo strips
– no showers
– Camp Hospital:
– 30 Wards
– each ward could hold 40 men
– frequently had 100 men in each
– two tiers of bunks
– sickest POWs on the bottom tier
– each POW had a 2 foot by 6-foot area to lie in
– Zero Ward
– given the name, because it had been missed when counting wards
– became ward where those who were going to die were sent
– fenced off from other wards
– Japanese guards would not go near it
– POWs sent there had little to no chance of surviving
– many deaths caused by malnutrition since the men’s bodies could not fight the diseases they had
– others became ill because of lack of bedding, covers, and mosquito netting
In May 1942, his family receive this letter from the War Department:

“According to War Department records you have been designated as the emergency addressee of Cpl. Fred J. Allen, who according to the latest information available, was serving in the Philippine Islands at the time of the final surrender.
“We deeply regret that it is impossible for us to give you more information. In the last days before the surrender of Bataan, there were casualties which were not reported to the war department. Conceivably, the same is true of the surrender of Corregidor and possibly of other islands of the Philippines. The Japanese government has indicated its intentions of conforming to the terms of the Geneva convention with respects to the interchange of information regarding prisoners of war. At some future date, this government will receive through Geneva a list of persons who have been taken prisoners of war. Until that time the war department cannot give you positive information.
“The war department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as ‘missing in action’ from the date of the surrender of Corregidor, May 7, 1942, until definite information to the contrary is received. It is hoped that the Japanese government will communicate a list of prisoners of war at an early date. At this time you will be notified by this office in the event his name (Fred J. Allen) is contained in the list of prisoners of war.”

The following is an excerpt from a second letter received in July 1942:

The last report of casualties received by the War Department from the Philippines arrived early in the morning of May 6. Through this date, 1st Cpl. Fred J. Allen had not been reported as a casualty. The War Department will consider the persons serving in the Philippine Islands as “missing in action” from the date of the surrender of Corregidor, May 7, until definite information to the contrary is received. “Efforts to secure prisoner of war lists from the Philippines have not been successful to this date due to the lack of communication and the fact that the Japanese Government has not yet given permission for the Swiss representative and the International Red Cross delegates to make visits to prisoner of war camps in the islands. When the lists of prisoners are received, we will clear the name of your son and send you any additional information that we may have.”

Hell Ship:
Tottori Maru
– 1961 POWs put on the ship
– 500 in the front hold and 1461 in the rear hold
– 7 October 1942 – POWs boarded onto Tottori Maru
– Sailed: Manila – 8 October 1942
– Note: 9 October 1942 – American submarine fired two torpedoes at the ship
– the ship passes a mine laid by an American submarine
– Arrived: Takao, Formosa – 12 October 1942
– Sailed: 16 October 1942
– returned to Takao
– Sailed: 18 October 1942
– Arrived: Pescadores Islands
– anchored off the Pescadores Islands the same day
– remained anchored for several days
– two POWs died and were buried at sea
– Sailed: 27 October 1942
– Arrived: Takao – 27 October 1942
– 28 October 1942 – POWs were taken ashore and bathed
– Sailed: 30 October 1942
– Arrived: 30 October 1942 – Makou, Pescadores Islands
– Sailed: 31 October 1942
– Arrived: Fusan, Korea – 7 November 1942
– 8 November 1942 – POWs disembarked the ship
– sick POWs left behind at Fusan
– held behind at Fusan
POW Camp:
– Jinsen, Korea
– hospitalized – Imperial Japanese Hospital
– those who recovered sent to Mukden, Manchuria
– Died: Tuesday – 8 December 1942 – Pusan, Korea
– beriberi & pellagra
– cremated and ashes put in white boxes and sent to Mukden, Manchuria
– Buried: Mukden Cemetery
– P-13, Grave: 6
– January 1944 – his family learned of his death
Funeral:
– Holy Cross Church, Elizabethtown, Kentucky – 29 January 1949
Reburied:
– Saint James Cemetery – Elizabethtown, Kentucky – 29 January 1949

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